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My Week With Marilyn

She looks more like Marilyn in black in white.

Michelle Williams is on a roll, getting Oscar nominations for her performances (only last year she was nominated for Blue Valentine), but not yet really there to pick up the golden bald trophy man.

I would say her portrayal of the icon that was Marilyn Monroe (Williams) is the reason My Week With Marilyn was nominated for the Best Picture. (Like other bets, yes, it is also a film about making a film—well, sort of.) But that would be unfair to other worthy actors in the film: Kenneth Branagh, Dominic Cooper, Judi Dench, Julia Ormond, just to name a few.

Even Emma Watson was part of it albeit in a minor role.

It would also be unfair to Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), the film being in his point of view. It was his week with Ms. Monroe that this film is about, for crying out loud.

He looks familiar but I can't put my finger on it.

As a whole, though, My Week With Marilyn is a gem. It was a bit surreal. There is a feeling of lightness while watching it, as well as deep but subtle hints of how troubled the late actress was. It’s not a surprise that she allegedly took her own life. It gave me a ping-pong session of queries in my mind:

Was she just a sexy pin-up girl?

How good of an actress was she really? Or did her "connections" play a big part on her career? And maybe her demise as well?

But this film is not for the audience to grieve for her and/or for someone like me, as part of the generation who never really knew her onscreen, to search for the answers to the many what-ifs. It’s simply a story of an extraordinary week of a young naive boy with Ms. Monroe. But it's not as simple as it sounds. I imagine a glimpse of her is overwhelming as it is, what more a week.

My Week With Marilyn gets a seven-point-five out of ten for brilliant performances and a insightful peek into a lost icon's life.

 *screencaps by VLC


The Descendants Review, or How to Give a Heavy Topic a Light Treatment


The whole film can actually be summarized by analyzing just one character in the story. And it's this character:

"Woah, dude."

That's actor Nick Krause, who plays Sid, the boyfriend of George Clooney's daughter Alexandra. That's his role. But what is his purpose?

His purpose is simply as a tension-diffuser. Because of the tragic turn of family events, the King family needs to talk to the rest of their relatives. Alex, however, hates those kinds of things. So she takes Sid along, because in her own words, "I'll be a lot more civil with him around." So Sid's purpose is to diffuse the tension, and to act as comic relief, both of which he does pretty well.

The girl on the left is my new Hollywood crush, Shailene Woodley.

And that is the same thing that Alexander Payne does with the film. The story is actually pretty heavy, involving boating accidents, comatose patients, and cheating wives. But director Alexander Payne masterfully balances all this by giving the film a humorous treatment. You won't quite appreciate how good a director Payne is until you realize that the film probably wouldn't work as well if its treatment was as heavy as its story.

The Descendants. USA. 2011.

Rating: Eight out of ten.
Scene where Sid gets punched in the face for laughing at the old woman with Alzheimer's: Nine and a half out of ten.
Shailene Woodley: Nine out of ten.


Far-Out Theories: The French Connection, or the 84th Academy Awards Recap

Some brief facts about this year's Oscars:

The two strongest contenders for Best Picture both involve the French.

And these are: Hugo, and The Artist. These two films are similar, yet not quite the same.

The similarities: Both films are about filmmaking, or about the film industry. Also, both of them pay homage to film history.

The differences: Hugo is an American production set in Paris. The Artist is a French production set in Hollywood.

Of course, The Artist won. But that wasn't surprising, and not just because The Artist won the Best Picture award during the Golden Globes. It was obvious because the Academy is trying to make an international expansion. Let me illustrate.

This year's major winners include:

Actor in a Leading Role

"It's John-Doo-Jar-Done."
Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Actor in a Supporting Role

"About time, you bastards."
Christopher Plummer, The Beginners


"Au revoir, suckers."
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Music (Original Score)

The Bource Legacy.
Ludovic Bource, The Artist


Best Picture

"Vive le France!"

And then most of the technical awards went to Hugo, sending The Artist and Hugo home with five Oscars each.

But wait... why didn't Gary Oldman win for Best Actor, you ask? Because he got nominated a year too late. If he got nominated last year, he might have won, because last year was the year of the Brits. But that's only if he could win against last year's winners, which included:

"Firth may have the Best Actor trophy, but everyone knows
I'm the better actor."

So this is how it went just right before the 83rd Academy Awards:

Academy Honcho 1: You know, we should start thinking globally. Like the NBA. Some of the top players in the league right now are from Europe, such as Manu Ginobili and Dirk Nowitzki.
Academy Honcho 2: And don't forget Kobe Bryant. He's Italian.
Academy Honcho 1: Wait... no he's not. He's American, you idiot.
Academy Honcho 2: But he speaks Italian...
Academy Honcho 1: Well, anyway, we should now start our global expansion campaign, if American cinema is to survive. So why don't we start with our English-speaking cousins from across the pond?
Academy Honcho 2: The Brits?
Academy Honcho 1: Englishmen, my good sir. The proper term is Englishmen.
Academy Honcho 2: Okay, so how do we begin our global expansion campaign?
Academy Honcho 1: We give them five of the major awards.
Academy Honcho 2: All right, that's done, then.

That was last year. This year, the Oscars went across the English channel to France. Next year? Maybe they'll hit Germany next. And maybe give acting Oscars to Michael Fassbender and Franka Potente.

[Full list of winners on Oscars.org]

*French flag from Solihull.gov.uk
Canadian flag from frenchentree.com


New Girl. Episode 14: "Bully"

Break up?!? Nooooooooooooooo!

Since when does giving the boyfriend a plant mean breaking up? Nick should at least try to get Julia back; he said "I love you" to her already. I just need Lizzy Caplan to stay in this show so I can still watch it. She hasn't even had as much screen time as The Mac Guy. She deserves more.

In other news: "Bullies Beware!" and "'Friends With Benefits' or 'No Strings Attached'".

*screencap by VLC


The Big Year Review, or Having Three Comedians Doesn't Necessarily Mean It's a Comedy


This is going to be a riotously funny comedy, all on the strength of the three lead stars, Messrs. Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Luke Owen Wilson. I think this movie will deliver a lot of laughs to the point that would make my stomache ache with laughter.

Look at the three of them with their binoculars. So funny.

No, this is not a comedy at all. Having three very talented and extremely funny comedians topbilling this film is not a guarantee of side-splitting laughter.

"Really? We're not funny?"

The Big Year is a feel-good movie, closer to a drama than a comedy, and even closer to a documentary than a comedy. It's about birding, or birdwatching, a legitimate hobby that inspired me to search for my own hobby that doesn't require too much equipment. It also tells the story of three birders (I just assumed that's what they're called), and narrates their personal struggle alongside their birding.

This film isn't that funny. That's because it's not a comedy. But it's a great movie, one that would teach viewers more than just the names, plumages, and songs of the birds of North America.

The Big Year. USA. 2011.

Rating: Seven and a half out of ten.


The Secret Circle. Episode 15: "Return"

Spare us the sorry-I-left-you-but-I'm-back bullshit.

Daddy's back. And apparently, he's a changed man─and sans the dark magic he once possessed. I thought he'd bring the badass back to this show. Tsk, tsk. What good would he be now? Maybe we'll find out who else Daddy fathered in the circle, that's a little interesting.

What if it was Adam who's Cassie's half-sibling? How soap-operatic.

We met the not-a-warlock-but-casts-spells-on-people-and-escapes-death Witch Hunter. Next time, we'll probably meet Lee's ex-girlfriend(?). I hope they don't just add clutter to the already cluttered show.

For now, see how Lee's kiss was more "intimate" than Jake's booty call:

*screencaps courtesy of VLC


The Vampire Diaries. Season 3, Episode 15: "All My Children"

And just like that, Esther and Finn are out!

And also just like that, Bonnie lost another family for Elena's sake, whether she intends to play a role in protecting The Doppelganger or not. I think The Witch would have allowed Esther to succeed if she could've done anything about it. No matter how big and deep a scar this event will give Bonnie and Elena's friendship, that scar is the saddest thing in this episode.

And also the letter Elijah wrote; he is flawed but just perfect.

So just like that, we are left with our favorite Originals:

And Rebekah, of course. Lover her, too.

I hope Elijah sticks around for a while longer, or at least keeps his toes in Mystic Falls every now and then. He needs to keep his siblings in line, I suppose. Or kill Klaus, maybe. Has our Original hybrid given up on Caroline? I hope not. The Stefan-Elena-Damon triangle is so Season 1 now.

I hate to say I told you so, but Flirty Doc is sooo not innocent. Alaric shouldn't die—well, he shouldn't die in every episode, really. 

*screencaps courtesy of VLC


The Artist Review, or The Best Use of Effective Realism


I've already mentioned this before, but I'm mentioning it again.

I came up with the term "effective realism" as a cinematic technique, and I'm hoping I could get it recognized as a legitimate term in film theory. To do that, however, I need to write a full academic paper on it, and get it published in a reputable academic journal, and sadly I do not have time to do that. Hopefully some time in the near future.

That's 'cause I'm too busy scoring with chicks.

Anyway, the previous discussions I've had about effective realism had to do with language. Effective realism means that the language spoken in a film narrative should be accurate. If it's a film about ancient Rome, then the characters should speak in Latin. That means the only film about Jesus Christ that uses effective realism is The Passion of the Christ. That film's director, Mel Gibson, took effective realism further with his follow-up film Apocalypto, where the characters spoke Yucatec Mayan.

After watching The Artist, I've discovered that effective realism actually involves more than just the dialogue. It involves the entire film. Like Martin Scorsese's Hugo, The Artist is a film about films─specifically, silent films. And what better way to pay tribute to the era of silent films than to tell it in... silence.

Silent except for the sound of how awesome his mustache is.

Wait, what?

Yes, this film is a silent film. In 2011, you ask? Yes again. But what does effective realism have to do with it? Everything.

  1. This film has no dialogue. That's because films did not have dialogue back in the late 1920s.
  2. This film was shot at 22 frames per second. That's because films back then were shot at lower frame rates.
  3. This film is in black and white. That's because color did not exist back then.
  4. This film uses the old 1.33:1 aspect ratio. That's because this was the same aspect ratio used by silent films.
  5. This film utilizes no zoom shots. That's because the zoom technique did not exist back then.
  6. This film depends heavily on the musical score. That's because the old films did, too.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the true essence of effective realism. What it basically does is create a fake yet extremely believable world using authentic and accurate elements such as language, cinematography, costume design, editing, and acting. Good job, Michel Hazanavicius.


Despite being a French/Belgian production, there are some familiar Hollywood faces here, such as John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Missi Pyle, and a short cameo by British actor Malcolm McDowell. But the best acting of all came from George Valentin himself, Monsieur Jean Dujardin. It's got to be the smile.


Seriously. Just look at that mug.

The Artist. France/Belgium. 2011.

Rating: Nine out of ten.


New Girl. Episode 13: "Valentine's Day"

"Oh, so I'm not going to take my shirt off?"

This is a perfect example of how to waste some Jason Stackhouse. With the shitty character you gave him, Ryan Kwanten should have been naked all throughout his scenes—half-naked at least!

How can you not show us his #$%^&@| body?!

Winston's, and Nick and Julia's Valentine thingies were really cute—too cute, actually, but good anyway. I just hope we're not alternating stories of the roads to happy-ever-afters from Nick-and-Jess's to Schmidt-and-Cece's.

But we all need sumkindova Valentine "twirl", agree?

I knew this would happen one way or another, sooner or later. I hope both enjoyed it at the very least.

*screencaps courtesy of VLC


Music Icons: Whitney Houston

I don't believe I've masturbated to Whitney Houston before, though.

When I entered law school in 2007, they had a certain freshman tradition called the "Miss Freshman" night, where every freshman block chooses one male representative to compete in a drag contest. My block, strangely, chose me. I'd like to think it was on account of my beautiful face.

The Miss Freshman contest was patterned like beauty contest for drag queens─there was a swimsuit portion, a talent portion, and a question-and-answer portion. For my talent portion, I sang "One Moment in Time", by none other than Whitney Houston. I don't remember if I won, but I don't care. I won the Best in Swimsuit award, anyway.

My relationship with Whitney Houston goes way back. When I was in California back in '96, the song "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" was on the radio (and on MTV). In my childhood, there was a comedienne who went by the name of Whitney Tyson. When my siblings were little, my aunt took care of them, and Whitney Houston was her favorite singer. Whenever a Whitney Houston song came on the radio, she would turn the volume up and start singing out loud.

Whitney Houston, like Michael Jackson, was part of my childhood. And now she is gone. Rest in peace.

Whitney Elizabeth Houston. 9 August 1963 – 11 February 2012


Literary Icons: Wislawa Szymborska

"Look at that spider on the ceiling."

Sometime in April last year, I was invited to a poetry event hosted by Instituto Cervantes. The program said they would be featuring both European and Filipino poets performing side by side. This of course got me excited, for upon reading the program, I saw some really big names in European literature. And the name that caught my eye was Wislawa Szymborska. Yes, the Nobel laureate. If I could perform a poem in the same line-up as a Nobel laureate, then my literary career would have reached its peak.

But it turns out Ms. Szymborska wasn't coming to the event. She wasn't even coming to the Philippines. Her work would simply be read by some Polish representative. Probably an exiled Polish pedophile.

Anyway, that was the closest I got to meeting Wislawa Szymborska. Thanks, Instituto Cervantes!

Wisława Szymborska. 2 July 1923 – 1 February 2012.


Hugo 3D Review, or 6 Reasons to Watch This


1. It's directed by Martin Scorsese.

Just like a grandfather telling a story.

Actually, I could already stop there. A Scorsese film is never crappy. Your least favorite Scorsese flick will still be good even by hipster standards. But I won't stop there, because I still have more to say.

I can actually let Scorsese's non-use of effective realism pass, since this film has no pretensions of being bilingual anyway. If you remain consistent by using only one language all throughout, that's fine. The only reason it didn't work in War Horse was because the story supposedly involved characters speaking three different languages, but what the audience heard was simply English in three different accents.

Just as 2011 marked Steven Spielberg's first venture into animated films, so too does 2011 mark Martin Scorsese's first venture into family-friendly films. (And incidentally, last year also marked both filmmakers's first try at 3D.) Just goes to prove that a great storyteller will do good in any genre.


The Vampire Diaries. Season 3, Episode 14: "Dangerous Liaisons"

Whew. Is it me or is it just really hot to see Damon make out.

Damon, my bad-ass Damon, is back. As much as I want Elena to choose him, history tends to repeat itself. Moving on, he's so good at being self-destructive. Even if he made out with Rebekah, I don't blame him at all. It's just so refreshing to see Damon like he was in Season 1 all over again.

With the absence of the serial killer—or a kill in one of Mystic Falls's big events (and this with the oldest, most powerful vampires at that)—this episode still does not lack the "big bangs" in true TVD shipper-shattering fashion:


The Secret Circle. Episode 14: "Valentine"

Have a witch slumber party, but need a Ouija board to contact spirits.

Use one entire episode to show and explain how powerful the medallion is only for Cassie to crush it only with one hand.

Have a good-looking-when-he-smiles guy only to have him always brood.

Introduce a possbily fatal drug only to disregard Melissa and not bring her to the E.R. when she almost overdosed.

Have a witch hunter who also turns out to be a witch.
(He really looks better smiling.)

This show has been a lot of things—mostly ironic, really—except coherent.

But if we're going to go with it: Lee has a secret motive, Melissa would probably still have a drug problem, the love triangles were and will be tense as to be expected, and there was an early wee bit of a sexual tease.

*screencaps courtesy of VLC


On Seeing Eyeball

My friends heroic_ and zany saw two plays from Eyeball with me at the CCP last Feb. 5.

“Doc Resureccion: Gagamutin Ang Bayan” was written by Layeta Bucoy. It won a Palanca and I can see why. The debate within the play was great, and the last scenes were killer. It took a while to get there, though. And it relied on curse word after curse word to keep the audience entertained in the meantime. I guess that worked because the audience didn’t seem used to profanity.

Plus points for Lou Veloso on stage.

“Bakit Wala Nang Nagtatagpo sa Philcoa Oberpas” was written by Carlo Pacolor Garcia. This play is close to my heart for many reasons—one being that I got to read this in its earlier forms. I think some aspects of the staging were too much, though. The ad billboard projected things that went from snarky, to corny, to historical. Sometimes, they felt like extra devices to tell people what the scene was about, in case it wasn't obvious enough. The songs were inaudible too. And the heart of the matter: a reconciled petite bourgeoisie couple, a victimized law enforcer, and a lumpen proletariat family calling the shots, got drowned out.

That makes for the score of 6.7/10 for each play.

Leave your electronic devices once in a while and hit a theater. It may even make for a great Valentine’s date.


Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace 3D Review, or Fanboy Expectations vs. Horrible Reality


EXPECTATION: Even if this is converted 3D, George Lucas will somehow push the envelope of 3D conversion and give us some groundbreaking converted 3D images.
REALITY: No. This is possibly the worst 3D I have seen. Unlike James Cameron, Lucas clearly does not know anything about 3D. The Men in Black III 3D trailer, while also converted 3D, looked more like proper 3D than this one.

Yoda to Lucas: "Kill you, I will."


New Girl. Episode 12: "The Landlord"

That polo print should have been a giveaway.
I've had my share of tenant-landlord shenanigans, which can be really anything. This one is really more creepy than funny.

This is more ewww than funny, too.

I think Schmidt should carry the Douchebag Jar around. Seriously.

*screencaps courtesy of VLC


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